I’ll be the first to admit I’m a geek. Even at 49, I still love to play video games with the best of them and I think I’ve owned pretty much every console known, except the last couple. My affinity is for first person shooters, as they are called, but for me it’s not for the shooting. It’s for that first person POV – The immediate immersion into someone else’s life besides your own.
Going way back, I was an old school gamer, D&D all the way. I’ve done the 3 day weekend binges, the treks to GenCon and the immortalization of characters so old and well used that they were no fun to play anymore. I mean, when you can kill pretty much everything thrown at you, where’s the fun it that?
I recently found my old D&D Binder (signed by Gary Gygax in 1994 when I ran into him at GenCon) that showed me that my love for world building and character development during my gaming years is no different from how I do it now as an author. In fact, looking at my old character sheets with stats and sketches, I can see that I took much of that format when I started to write and it helped me to develop my characters more fully. Give them a life I could immerse myself into, something all writers must do to hook their readers.
Playing D&D all those years ago also gave me a great way to creatively test plot ideas, capture dialogue and note action and reaction. So now I am jonesing to play again, to get into the shoes of my old characters and live their life through their eyes. It’s a 20th century equivalent to the modern-day first person shooter, but in D&D, you are the catalyst for where the story goes. If you want to shift plot, you act on it. Just like a writer would do. It’s the ultimate, aggressive “what if” in real time. It’s as if you are now the DM and this world is yours to create or destroy as you see fit and having this in my past has made me aware that it has shaped my writing tremendously.
And I’m glad I gamed, and still do.